Voice of the masses: Should we fear AI

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has made huge strides over the past decade, and it’s slowly gaining more and more prominence in the world. This week, Google’s AlphaGo beat one of the best Go players in the world marking the end of human dominance in what has long been thought to be the hardest game for computers; self driving cars are fast becoming a reality on public roads throughout the world; and natural language interfaces are a feature of every major smartphone platform.

There is undoubtedly a huge potential benefit in these thinking machines, but there could also be a darker side. In 2014, Stephen Hawking wrote, “Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history, unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks … In the medium term, as emphasised by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee in The Second Machine Age, AI may transform our economy to bring both great wealth and great dislocation.” The risks are everything from a massive social upheaval due to joblessness caused by AI to intelligent military machines causing world war three.

Our question this fortnight is, should we fear AI? Is it growing too powerful too quickly for us to fully comprehend the risks we’re taking? Is the rise of the machines a genuine concern, or just the stuff of science fiction?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll read them out on our upcoming podcast.


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